Monday, April 16, 2012

Are You Two-Faced Online...By Accident?

No matter what kind of publishing we're pursuing, we all hear the
mantra "build your platform!"

Unfortunately, I think a lot of authors new to the idea of building a
business often mistake blog or twitter followers for a "platform". But
the truth is, the numbers on your page aren't necessarily an accurate
gauge of the reach of your brand.

I've had the opportunity to run my own business in the past - after I
worked for a guru in branding and business development. The following
are three simple mistakes I see a lot of authors making:

1. Two-faced Branding

If your blog URL is, your twitter
account is @snazzywriter and your facebook page is Aurora Beguiling,
you make it a lot harder for people to find you.

I think the common misconception is that if another writer finds you
on twitter they automatically look for your links to your blog and
facebook, etc. But the truth is that people's online habits vary
greatly. Most will happen across your blog and twitter separately. And
if they don't go looking for you on facebook directly they may never
get linked to your account. If they follow your blog, they may link to
it via blogger or Google, so unless you make a marked impression right
out of the gate, they probably won't remember that "Aurora Beguiling"
is the same person as "@snazzywriter".

The good news is, the solution is simple: Choose one name and one
picture and use them across the board. Make your URL, your twitter @
and your facebook name the same. When you use a photograph on one, use
the same or a visibly similar shot on others. Make it easy for people
to recognize you when they find you by accident and they'll start
noticing you more and looking for you.

2. Two-faced Audience

A huge misonception in author circles seems to be that having 15,000
followers on Twitter equates to several thousand books sold. This
couldn't be further from the truth IF you make and take a random

See, most people on Twitter are after the same thing : more followers.
You can hit the airwaves and gain hundreds of followers a week if you
get out there enough. But what good does it do you as an author to
have 5,000 business accounts, 3,000 Gleeks, and 4,000 rabid dog
lovers following you? In terms of books sales I can guarantee you that
following will garner you next to zero dollars in the bank. What you
need as an unestablished author is a lot of book lovers following you
- especially those who are solid fans of your genre.

The solution here is simple, but vastly more time consuming: you've
got to get selective about who you follow and who follows you. The
best way to do that is to choose a theme and stick to it. Only follow
writers, readers and publishing professionals. Then make sure the vast
majority of what you put out there applies to that audience. When
you're following back, only follow those with an interest in writing
or books. Don't clog up your own airwaves with motivational speakers
and fitness fanatics. Stay focussed. Get into conversations with
people who might have an interest innbuying your book one day, and
improve your odds by connecting with people who state that in their
twitter account bios.

As a writer your theme is books, writing, reading, etc. Of course
there's room for personal connection and stories too, but beware of
point number three below. Your goal has to be to make your name
synonymous in followers minds with whatever you're going to want them
to buy in the end. Nothing (and I do mean, nothing) else.
3. Me-faced Themes

Okay, here's the biggie. Please don't shoot the messenger.

Very few people are interested in you (or me) as a person. It sucks,
but its true. Accept it and move on.

Most people will only keep coming back to our blog / twitter /
facebook accounts if they get something out of it FOR THEMSELVES.
People are inherently selfish, especially with their time. If they
don't know you or your work, or if you haven't achieved something they
wish they had, they don't care.

If, however, you can find a way to make your own journey benefit
others you've got a much better chance of repeat business in terms of
blog views, retweets, shares and likes, etc.

The solution here, quite frankly, is to stop assuming others are
interested in your life or feelings. That's not to say you should
never get personal - quite the contrary. Only that you need to find a
way to connect that benefits the other person.

For every blog post, tweet or status update,ask yourself one question:
What's in it for the reader? If the answer is consistently only
"getting to know me better" or "nothing" then you have a problem.

So how do you turn your daily life into social media interest from
potential buyers? I can't answer that for you directly, but I can give
you some clues.

First off, remember: humor is a payoff to just about anyone. If you
can break all the rules in a really funny way, you'll go far. But if
you can't, here are some guidelines.

DON'T: Spend a lot of time tweeting / blogging about how cute your cats are.

DO: Spend a lot of time tweeting / blogging about things you learned
about writing while trying to evade the advances of your overly
amorous cat who's currently in heat.

DON'T: Give a lot of airtime to your rejection letters and why they
were or weren't correct.

DO: Give a lot of airtime to analysing which parts of your query
letter worked (or didn't) in Mr. Snarlies Query Boot Camp.

DON'T: Spend all your tweet replies or blog comments telling other
people why they're wrong.

DO: Encourage other writers in whatever endeavors they are pursuing,
then use your own platform (blog or facebook) to express an opinion
and open dialogue on whatever topic is close to your heart. Invite
other people to tell you what they think. Or in other words, be the
kind of tweeter / blogger you wish everyone else was. Someone who's

Okay, I'm sure that's enough food for thought today. Go ahead and
comment with your thoughts. And yes, I do invite debate and dialogue
here at Seeking the Write Life. So if you disagree, go ahead and break
Don't #3 and tell me why. I am actually interested!


  1. This is why I'm still using this name. For some reason, I get away with it. :p

    I have seen Me-face in action. Look no further than a Writer's forum bustling with young people. It's an issue we try to be mature about, although there's still an element of criticalness. It's hard doing promotion.

    There's also the issue of my writing and music issues colliding. One of these days, I'll have to find a more serious name.

    1. I adore your name, Chi. (Can I call you Chi? Are we there yet?) I think it works because its so memorable. I do remember trying to track you down one time and not finding you though.... I think I was looking on Twitter?

  2. I agree with #1 & #2 100%, and #3 75%. I like to know a little about people, be it their cats, favorite television shows, or envy-inspiring vacations. If all I get from Twitter friends is talk about their book and writing, I feel a little used. I know you want to sell me your book, but could you be subtle about it?

    1. I know what you're saying Nancy. The "hard sell" element is a different problem altogether. Not sure I want to tackle that one! The personal touch is nice, but the important word there is "touch". The cool thing is, lots of writers out there use voice to stand out. I love it when I can tell whose blog I'm reading without seeing the title.

    2. Agreed. Adding a personal touch should be handled with the same deftness as describing your character. I don't want a whole paragraph about her titian hair and sea foam green eyes, but I do want to know what she looks like. Likewise, a whole day of tweets about food and cats is definitely overkill, whereas a picture of a cat laying on top of a manuscript adds personal flavor.

  3. Very, very good points. I used to do a lot of blogging related to writing was good reader wise, but really, it wore me out. I had to change my approach, and it's still changing. But you are right...people won't come back for more if you don't give them a purpose! I'm also bad with the "having one name" thing! I'm not comfortable using my own name as my "author" site because I'm not published yet, and looking for a job! :)

    1. Have you considered a penname for online endeavors? Its definitely wise to keep your name "clean" these days when job hunting. Good luck!

  4. I agree with all three. I really don't care that someone had a turkey sandwich for lunch. I do care about learning how to improve my brand, which is why I read the whole blog post. Well done.

  5. I couldn't hit the reply button above, but I wanted to reply to your comment! I did consider it, but I'm also considering marketing/creative related jobs on top of the customer service/administrative/standard office it's a tough balance! Right now it's all based on what I get next!

  6. Great points. Once again, thank you Aimee.

    I keep wondering what I am going to give my audience once the A to Z Challenge finishes, and I realise that the Book Review section I started is a good way forward. I should target those books more, though, towards the audience for my own books. But then, as I think I write what I like to read....

    And if I could get my Gravatar ID to be accepted on these comments, I'd be really happy!

  7. That's good stuff. I never thought about it that way before even though I knew that. I mean, I knew the thing about being consistent across your platforms. Now, though, you're making me re-think my stuff even though I already knew it!

  8. Great food for thought. Thanks, Aimee. I agree with most of what you've said here except about your own Twitter feed. I don't think there's anything wrong with following people that align with your other interests, like environmentalism, for example. You can always create lists so that you can read purely writing-related tweets went you want to stay focused.

    I probably do tweet a little too much about my other interests for my writer followers, but I'm prepared to take the risk. :-)